Retailers reverse generous return policies


There’s an old saying, “The customer is always right.” But that’s not always true. Sometimes customers take advantage of businesses and don’t do the right thing.

Years ago, I was at Costco and a guy was rolling in old computers up to the returns desk. When asked why he wanted to return them, the man said, ‘They’re old and I want to get new ones.’ I couldn’t believe they refunded his money on these 5 or 10 year old computers. But that was the Costco policy.

Today, however, Costco will only allow you to do returns on electronics for 90 days. That’s because the policy got abused by a small segment of customers like that guy.

Now REI has changed its generous lifetime return policy because people were returning camping gear from the ’70s in some cases, according to what I read in The Wall Street Journal! So now the outdoor activities retailer will limit returns to a year.

Of course, it’s just a small group of people who are fouling things up for everybody else. But more and more retailers are operating on thin margins and need to do something to survive.

Meanwhile, have you ever tried to return something at Target? According to the calls I’ve gotten, Target will treat you like a criminal, not a guest, when you go to return something. That’s because they’ve been overrun with criminal rings stealing merchandise and then bringing it back to turn into cash.

Too bad stores like Costco and REI get punished for their generous return policies. But that’s just the reality that retailers have to deal with.  

Clark Deals
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